November 15, 2012

Learning Schools Project 5: 2013-2014

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Learning Schools Project 4: 2012-2013

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The Learning School Project, in its 4th cycle now, involves 30 schools nationwide and is funded by Teacher Education Section of the Department of Education and Science. It is an action research project fostering active research methodologies in secondary schools undertaken by the Education Centres in Cork, West Cork, Kerry, Limerick and Clare.

Desmond College now participating in their second year have chosen the subject of Reading for this year’s research project. The leadership team was made up of three teachers Nicola White, Sara Doherty and Catriona O’Callaghan who devised and implemented teaching methodologies centered on fostering reading.

Vourneen Gavin Barry, Liz Cregan, Kerrie Collins and Keith O’Rahilly’s collective role was to inspire and enthuse the school population about this reading project, thereby making it an important aspect of school life.

The team also hoped to learn more about the organising and investigation of such a project. They intended that the wider team of TY teachers would see the benefits of cross-curricular links in developing such an important facet of each student’s education – reading.

Not only was it their hope to engage students in new learning experiences, they also engaged in a process of reflective practice with colleagues on what aspects of the project were successful or unsuccessful with regard to fostering reading at our school.

Students in Desmond College Post Primary School reading as part of the Learning Schools Project

The project focused on the Transition Year (TY) classes which has two classes of 20 pupils each. A ‘book club’ theme was developed. The class choose a book to read and explore within their library class and other classes within their curriculum. It was hoped that the use of multi-media, art and drama would capture interest and enthusiasm within the group and encourage them to read more in their own time.

It was decided that the TY English teachers would anchor the project in English class. Teachers from other departments such as Multi-Media studies, Art, Woodwork, IT and History were asked to co-operate and allow the students the time and resources to dynamically explore concepts that could be made tangible through a variety of media while researching the books, thereby making it a cross-curricular project.

The rationale for extending the project into other areas of school life was two-fold, firstly to establish greater levels of motivation and excitement among the immediate students around reading.

Secondly, it was hoped that by involving more subjects and teachers the ‘fostering reading’ philosophy would be more embedded in the wider school. In the long-term it was further hoped that students would see reading as an enjoyable activity and thereby rooting reading into the culture of the school environment in a sustainable way.

We, as teaching participants, are grateful to the students who entered into this process open heartedly and provided a forum for school leadership, teachers and students to collaborate on this project. We are also grateful to Dr. Joe O’Connell from the Limerick Education Centre who supported the team and school throughout this project.

Learning Schools Project 3

The Learning School Project, funded by Teacher Education Section of the Department of Education and Skills, is an action research project undertaken by the Education Centres in Cork, West Cork, Kerry, Limerick and Clare.

Desmond College’s Proposal was one of seven projects chosen in the Limerick hub. The Project received strong support from Dr. Joe O’ Connell and his Team.

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The Learning Schools Project seeks to:

  • Develop an increased awareness of what constitutes a Learning School
  • Support school-based activities promoting the on-going development of the Learning School
  • Enhance the capacity of individual teachers to contribute to the Learning School
  • Nurture teacher leadership in schools

Our Project Focus and Results:

  • Our project focused on second year students and was later extended to third year higher maths students. Our focus of our project was on How to Improve Student Effort at Homework.
  • Students were marked on their effort at homework. This resulted in a big increase in effort by all students.
  • Parents reported positively on the project.
  • As a result a new Homework Policy was developed and new report cards were introduced into the student journal. Effort at homework is now being recorded for all pupils.

The Team:

  • The Project Leaders were Deputy Principal Liz Cregan and Assistant Principal Shirley Supple Looney.
  • The Project Team consisted of Class Tutors Nicola White, Marie Ryan, Carol Liston, Margaret O’Mahony, Anne Hannon and maths teacher Veronica Ryan.


Learning Schools Pilot Project

As part of Desmond College’s ongoing commitment to best educational practice and opportunity for learning, we are delighted to announce that we are half way through our pilot project on Homework with all our Second Years.

It will run for another four weeks after mid-term break. The focus has been on improving and evaluating students’ efforts at HOMEWORK. The Learning Schools Team and all teachers have been working hard to ensure that students improve their motivation towards homework and thus benefit in their academic performance.

As always the success of students commitment depends on parental support. It is invaluable and greatly appreciated with the focus firmly on encouraging best on-going homework practice that can be used far beyond the pilot scheme.